I’m a sucker for mysteries in my fiction. Whether or not I’m studying a detective novel the place a homicide happened in an impossibly locked room, watching a Korean drama the place any character might be the serial killer, or investigating a penguin homicide in a vibrant JRPG (shout out to Paper Mario!), I can’t get sufficient. You could possibly say I’m the audience for The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story, an FMV thriller sport by director Koichiro Ito, who additionally wrote 2008’s 428: Shibuya Scramble (which occurs to be an FMV thriller sport, too). So I declare with the good authority of a thriller lover that The Centennial Case is a thriller value fixing.
The Centennial Case tells the story of the Shijima household and their connection to quite a few murders, and the magical tokijiku fruit, throughout 100 years. You view this story by way of the lens of Haruka Kagami, a best-selling thriller author whose scientific marketing consultant, Eiji Shijima — a medical researcher targeted on anti-aging — has been known as house for his estranged household’s succession ceremony. The Shijima household are the alleged stewards of the tokijiku, a fruit that grants agelessness when eaten. After Eiji learns a skeleton was discovered buried on their property, he asks Haruka to affix him and assist clear up the twin mysteries of the skeleton and the tokijiku.
Haruka, her editor Akari, and Eiji quickly grow to be embroiled in investigating a homicide on the Shijima property, which may solely be solved by examing the Shijima household historical past. By means of manuscripts and tales, you dive into multi-generational homicide instances linked to the Shijima household in 1922 and 1972. Haruka imagines the characters of those tales as folks she is aware of within the modern-day, and, on this means, the sport skillfully and purposefully reuses actors in every of its three timelines.
Characters are a spotlight of The Centennial Case. Haruka and her self-inserts up to now timelines, Yoshino and Iyo, are sensible, sort, and make for robust thriller solvers. The aloof and jaded detective Josui serves as a foil to the youthful Yoshino and Iyo. The varied villains are impressively devious and it’s extremely cathartic to observe them crumble. It is usually enjoyable to see actors painting fully completely different personalities throughout timelines.
There’s little extra I can say concerning the story of The Centennial Case — it’s a thriller sport, in spite of everything; the twists and turns it takes are a lot of the purpose — so what about the way it performs? The sport transpires throughout three phases: Investigation, Reasoning, and Answer. In the course of the Investigation Part, the story performs out in real-time as a tv drama. As a drama, The Centennial Case is exceptionally shot, with beautiful use of saturation, stunning surroundings, skillful digicam work, haunting sound design, and spectacular performing chops. You may pause, rewind, fast-forward, and open your investigation menu the place clues and evaluation revealed throughout these scenes can be found for perusal.
There are solely a few interactive parts throughout the Investigation Part. Often you can be prompted to reply a query or select a route for Haruka’s ideas. Whereas these selections may grant some negligible perception, they by no means appear to immediately have an effect on the story. You too can press a button to nab rare clues that materialize on the display earlier than they disappear. Since you spend most of your time within the Investigation Part with its lack of interplay, you may slip into the passive mode of watching a TV present, however remember the fact that every part you must clear up the case shall be on the display throughout these scenes.
Following the Investigation Part, Haruka will retreat to her cognitive house, the place she will study the clues she has found and put them collectively to create hypotheses. That is the Reasoning Part, the place you intention to unravel the mysteries found throughout the Investigation Part. Every thriller is represented by a hexagon surrounded by some empty areas. You fill these areas with corresponding clues discovered within the Investigation Part. Surprisingly, each clue you may have nabbed is unlocked right here, so it retroactively makes getting them pointless aside from trophy searching.
If you add a clue, a speculation is born and simulated by an animated cutscene explaining stated speculation. A few of these hypotheses are comical and never the correct deduction (no, the killer didn’t cleaning soap up their sword to make it simpler to stab their sufferer). This amusement helps preserve them attention-grabbing, however they will drag when a thriller has six potential hypotheses, and regardless of how absurd they’re, every has its personal cutscene. Every speculation you create additionally provides you a sixth of an perception level, that are spent to disclose the suitable clues for a given thriller. The thriller and clue hexes have matching symbols alongside their sides that join, so utilizing perception factors looks like a timesaver fairly than a very helpful or required mechanic.
Creating sufficient hypotheses unlocks additional mysteries you possibly can match to your remaining clues. Hopefully, these mysteries ultimately lead you to make the correct connections. But when not, a ultimate abstract permits you to study particular person hypotheses, which may help you place collectively the final items of the puzzle.
After you end creating extra hypotheses than you may ever want, you progress on to The Centennial Case‘s Answer Part. On this section, you employ your hypotheses to reply prompts and ship a Sherlock Holmes-esque rationalization of how elementary the mysteries of the present case could also be. When you establish the perpetrator, they’ll try and refute your conclusions. You need to tear down their rebuttals to lock down your case and win the day. On the finish of a chapter, you’re scored and given a rank primarily based on what number of makes an attempt every query within the Answer Part took you. To appreciate that elusive S-rank you want an ideal rating.
Throughout the latter two phases, points with the interpretation maintain the sport again. Comprehending mysteries and hypotheses might be troublesome with inaccurate tenses or phrasing and make you second guess your solutions throughout the Answer Part. There are additionally intelligent twists that probably made extra sense within the unique Japanese than they do within the — presumably too literal — English translation. It by no means felt unhealthy sufficient to harm my enjoyment of the sport, however I feel it’s its greatest flaw and might be remedied in a patch or any future titles from the group.
Talking of enhancements, I might be involved in a tough problem the place you possibly can fail to create the right hypotheses. As a result of every clue solely matches one particular thriller, you possibly can brute drive issues and at all times have respectable options. It will be infinitely extra advanced and punishing to permit the participant to fail throughout the Reasoning Part, however as a thriller aficionado, I might love to have the ability to. There’s additionally a selected level in The Centennial Case that I don’t want to spoil, however the place I really feel it absolutely realizes the potential of the gameplay. I might like to see an entire sport that lives as much as that potential as I see it.
General, I discover The Centennial Case a compelling thriller and sport. It’s a well-done interactive drama. The multi-generational story isn’t only a gimmick, however an impressed selection, and every part comes collectively in a wonderfully satisfying and considerate means within the finale. It consistently shocked me with its manufacturing values throughout all fronts (besides the disappointing translation) and stored me entertained and asking questions your entire time. I’m notably happy with the reasoning system as a vessel for fixing mysteries in an interactive atmosphere. I shall be there on day one for any follow-up video games and advocate any thriller followers try The Centennial Case.
One ultimate be aware: The Centennial Case has an vital epilogue chapter that could be a bit obtuse to entry. After the credit, the title display may have a message within the backside left that shows, “You’ve obtained mail!” Be sure to navigate to it and choose it to play the epilogue.